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Nearly 40 Million Viewers Watch Joe Biden’s Inauguration

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden fist bumps newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris after she took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden fist bumps newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris after she took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

CNN topped television’s coverage of Wednesday’s Inauguration of President Joe Biden as nearly 40 million viewers across several broadcast and cable networks viewed the festivities.

CNN averaged 9.9 million viewers from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., topping ABC’s 7.6 million viewers and NBC’s 6.8 million watchers, according to Nielsen. MSNBC (6.5 million), CBS (6 million) and Fox News (2.7 million) rounded out the list. 

Overall, 39.5 million viewers tuned in to see Biden’s swearing in ceremony, up from the 38 million viewers who tuned into Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration averaged 50.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

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CNN was also the most watched network during the broader 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. period, averaging 7.7 million viewers, topping ABC with 5.3 million viewers and MSNBC with 5.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The 29.2 million total viewers for the time period across the six networks was up from the 26.8 million viewers for the 2017 inauguration but down from 2009 (34.3 million).